Living Green 365: Holiday gift ideas

Having trouble viewing this message? View it as a webpage.

Living Green 365

Holiday gifts: Give more of what really matters

Having a hard time thinking of low-waste, sustainable gifts for everyone on your list? We surveyed 12 green gift-givers and asked, "What is your favorite gift to give or receive?"

As their answers reveal, the most treasured gifts we can give are our time, love, and energy. Don't be afraid to give gifts that aren't store bought. They are, in fact, the most treasured of all!

Here are their suggestions:

Green gift givers

Breakfast treat of the month. “Several years in a row I gave my grandparents a one-year “breakfast treat of the month.” Once a month I made sweet bread, muffins, or coffee cake and brought it to their house. It ensured we would get over there for a visit.” --Colleen

Top-10 book list. “My grandma and I share a love of reading. So last year I put together a “Top 10” list of books that I’ve read and enjoyed and thought that she too would enjoy too. I did buy her one of the books, but suggested that she get the remaining books through the library.” --Brian

Green gift giver

Matchbook collage. “During the process of helping my parents downsize, my daughter and I discovered several drawers of matchbooks. These were collected by my father over decades of travel. We decided to cut off the covers these matchbooks and glue them into a dense collage. My father was delighted and continues to enjoy this framed, visual memorial of all the hotels, bars, and restaurants he visited world-wide over more than 30 years.” --Philipp

Non-lead fishing tackle. “I gave non-lead fishing tackle to my dad for Christmas. It was an opportunity for me to teach him about why lead tackle is dangerous for wildlife.” --Paul

Green gift giver

Walking stick and Minnesota State Park gift card. “I’ve made a walking stick out of a sturdy, fallen branch. You can skin the bark off, sand it down, and paint or carve a design in it prior to finishing. This gift promotes getting out and enjoying nature. You could even pair it with a Minnesota State Parks annual permit!” --Linda

Memory book. “I bought a notebook and every New Year’s we each write down one of our favorite memories from the year on a note card. On New Year’s Eve we read the memories and then paste the note card into the notebook, along with a picture related to the memory. It’s fun to see what memory the other person chooses. Sometimes it is something really simple and sometimes it is a big event.” --Johanna

Green gift giver

A special experience. “Our granddaughter reads and reads and loves to write stories. We gave her a week-long summer writing camp at the Loft in Minneapolis. She thought she was so cool. Other people might like concert tickets, a cooking class, or other membership to a museum.” --Phyllis

Jar of love. “My son gave me an empty food jar filled with little notes. Each note listed an activity that he’ll do with me. He included experiences like bike ride, canoe, cross country skiing, see a movie, and go to a park. What could be better?" --Madalyn 

Green gift giver

Felted potholders and coasters. “I make potholders and coasters out of old wool sweaters by felting them in the washing machine and cutting them out. The potholders are nice and thick. You can cut out the coasters in lots of shapes.” --Theresa

Repaired family heirlooms. “This is a little weird, but I had a really durable vacuum cleaner that I repaired and gave to my son. My son remembers it from growing up and thought it was funny, but he loved it! This would also work with high-quality items like a sewing machine or mixer.”--Nancy

Green gift giver

Compost bin or red wiggler worms. “I gave my sister a homemade worm bin for her apartment, complete with red wiggler worms. Getting set up with the bin is the hardest part, so once she had the bin she was willing to use it. You could also offer to build a backyard bin for a family member using these directions and material list." --Kevin

White elephant exchange. “A white elephant exchange is guaranteed to bring a belly-full of laughs. Find something in your home or garage that you no longer want or need, wrap it up and bring it to the family gathering. There are various activities you can do pass out the gifts, such as pick a number, roll the dice, or oldest to youngest. We chose the dice way.” --Jeanne

Gift-giving resources

Community events and resources

The State of Minnesota is hosting free, pubic Environmental Congress Citizen Forums across the state in November and December. Join Minnesota state agency commissioners, community leaders, and a diverse group of citizens for a facilitated discussion on air, water, land, energy, and climate. The state wants your insights on what is important for Minnesota’s environmental and economic future. Be a part of a new vision for improving and sustaining the health of Minnesota’s natural resources and quality of life!

The Will Steger Foundation, Fresh Energy, and the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy are organizing a series of free public forums about climate change. Hear from Will Steger, Minnesota’s own eyewitness to global warming, and Fresh Energy’s J. Drake Hamilton about effective clean energy solutions, dates in November & December throughout Minnesota.

Rethink Recycling just released a new Business Recycling Guide. It provides information about where and how to get rid of your organization's stuff.

Thank you for reading Living Green 365. This newsletter is a publication of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Please send questions or comments about living green to the address below.


Britt Gangeness and the Living Green Team